For state and local governments, transparency and accountability are everything. But as spending becomes increasingly decentralized and employees make more of their own spending decisions, the risk of overspending, human errors, and even fraud, goes up. This is especially true when an organization uses manual spend management processes and data is not integrated between back-office systems.
When it came to employee travel, one state accounting office (SAO) in the United States was getting bogged down in paper-based processes. Not only did employees need to save and scan receipts and e-mail expense reports, travel policy enforcement and cross-check was also manual – requiring human auditing at every level of approval and increasing the risk of error. The process was also time-consuming, which meant long reimbursement wait times for travelers. But worst of all, the SAO had minimal reporting capabilities, resulting in very limited insight into spend and no efficient way to effectively enforce spending policy.
Two particular areas of concern for this SAO were self-reporting of mileage and the departure and arrival times used to calculate per diem allowance, both of which created an unnecessary opportunity for human error and fraud. To increase compliance and also make overall expense reporting faster and easier for employees, the state needed a flexible, user-friendly, automated, and integrated solution.
Enter SAP Concur solutions.
The state’s SAO found a comprehensive answer to its expense reporting woes with the Concur Travel and Concur Expense solutions. Because they are cloud-based software-as-a-service solutions, they could be quickly implemented across the state using in-house resources, and then rolled out to all 70,000 employees at a low cost.
The benefits were clear right out of the gate.
For travelers, Concur Travel and Concur Expense provide a truly end-to-end expense management solution. Not only can they be used to book travel and make hotel reservations, travelers can take pictures of paper receipts and directly upload them to their account through a mobile app. The app also lets them classify expenses based on type (rather than by confusing codes) and then create expense reports right from their smartphone. Approvers can, in turn, approve expense reports on the go, from any device.
To ease governance and compliance, specific audit rules can be built into the solution. For example, mileage is now reimbursed automatically based on the shortest route between departure and destination – regardless of the route a driver decides to take. Calculating per diem is also done automatically by pulling departure and arrival dates from the employee’s itinerary.
Because the state now has automated T&E management processes, better data, and tighter controls, it has been able to reduce the number of approval levels required for auditing – saving time and allowing finance teams to focus on more strategic tasks.
Most approvers confirm that it takes no more than three days to complete a report from the time it is submitted. And employees have full visibility into the status of each report. In fact, based on an internal survey, 86% of the state’s users who submitted at least six expense reports determined it was easy to approve reports in SAP Concur solutions.
Where the SAO is seeing the highest return from its SAP Concur solutions is in increased visibility and simplified compliance. Because booking is done through the app, giving auditors enhanced reporting capabilities, the state has found travelers to be more conscious of their travel choices. Specifically, they are making a greater effort to select vendors with cost-efficient rates. In addition to the cost savings, visibility into hotel spend, for example, is greater than ever before. The SAO can run reports to see where the traveler stayed, how much the hotel was per night, and so on – helping it make more-informed decisions when it comes to tasks such as hotel rate negotiations.
By automating and integrating travel, expense, and invoice processes, the state is eliminating costly mistakes and time-consuming auditing requirements by putting payment controls in place to improve compliance. And with a single source of centralized data, it has the visibility and tools to proactively reduce fraud and misuse of travel funds.
Read the full case study find out more about how this state’s SAO went from stacks of paper reimbursement forms to a fully integrated and automated solution with Concur Travel and Concur Expense.